Award-winning landscape design at Queenstown's Remarkables Primary School by Baxter Design Group. Award-winning landscape design at Queenstown's Remarkables Primary School by Baxter Design Group. CREDIT: Baxter Design Group
 Innovative outdoor learning and play areas designed by Baxter Design Group for Remarkables Primary School. Innovative outdoor learning and play areas designed by Baxter Design Group for Remarkables Primary School. CREDIT: Baxter Design Group

Queenstown company wins national landscape architecture award for new school

Tuesday 9 April 2013, 4:18PM
By Baxter Design Group


A well-established Queenstown-based consultancy has been named the only South Island company to have won a prestigious national landscape architecture design award.

At an awards dinner held in Auckland last night (April 8 2013), Baxter Design Group walked away with an NZILA Award of Excellence, the top category of award, for its work on the Remarkables Primary School site in Queenstown.

The annual New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture (NZILA) ‘Resene Pride of Place Awards’ celebrate the work of an internationally recognised professional body of qualified landscape architects in New Zealand.

Director Paddy Baxter said he was “thrilled” that the company had been recognised for its contemporary design work on a project that had had its challenges, due to a small, sloping site.

“Like any school project the design was a collaborative effort with effectively three clients – the establishment board of trustees, the teachers’ management team, and ultimately the pupils,” he said.

“We were very happy to get the job in the first place after competing on a design basis through a selection process with other consultancies.

“We enjoyed working really closely with the board at the start of the job and by the timer we were into the detail we were working with teachers and finished off with the children.

“It’s a tight site for a school with more than 460 children so we worked with the architects Babbage Consultants on a masterplan that maintained open playing space but still had smaller spaces within it for group play and outside learning.

“It was a team approach from the start, and we couldn’t have done it without the support and understanding of concept by principal contractor Naylor Love, which was hugely helpful.

“We designed the grounds around the school, leading down towards Lake Wakatipu, with areas of native planting to provide a contrast to the large central sport courts and a stepped amphitheatre large enough to hold all the pupils on special occasions.

“The designs allowed for future expansion of the school and it’s establishing well.”

Remarkables Primary School principal Debbie Dickson said the school couldn’t have hoped for a better design and implementation.

“The award recognises the wonderful collaborative partnership we had with Baxter Design, a great journey where we were able to work alongside creative designers who understood the importance of creating spaces that connected to learning and encouraged not only social interaction but interaction with our beautiful environment,” she said.

“When we talked about wanting to have Cave, Camp Fire and Water Hole learning spaces not only in our learning pods but also in the environment, Paddy and the team really grasped the concept and created some very unique spaces which our students and community enjoy on a daily basis.

“On behalf of the school, Board and community we congratulate Paddy on this amazing and well deserved award.”

NZILA judges said the school design stood out because it ‘paid homage’ to the landscape while adding significantly to the environment of learning.

The judgement praised the clever use of landform resulting in an enclosed, sheltered yet interesting space for children to explore with a variety in experience achieved through contour and levels integrating building and landscape, enabling ‘innovative and interrogative’ use of the space by students.

They described it as ‘a design that exemplifies the powerful outcomes that can be achieved with true collaboration between architect, landscape architect and client’.

Baxter Design Group specialises in landscape architecture, masterplanning, urban design and landscape planning.
Its team of landscape architects is involved with many high profile large-scale tourism and development projects in the Southern Lakes region, Central Otago and other main centres throughout New Zealand, and public spaces including town centre projects and urban design.

Its extensive portfolio of work covers urban and rural landscape masterplanning, resort development, public streetscape and parks, rural subdivision, residential design and landscape assessment.

Paddy Baxter has more than 25 years’ experience working for a range of clients including corporate businesses, local bodies, government departments and private clients. 

Baxter Design Group has received many major awards over the years including ones for work on Blanket Bay Lodge, a stunning residential home on the western flanks of The Remarkables mountain range, and the Brecon Street Steps alongside Sofitel Queenstown.